Rocket from Gaza Hits Israel; Israel Responds With Airstrike

Remains of Rockets and Mortars fired on Sderot from Gaza during the summer of 2014 kept in the Police Station of Sderot (Photo: Andrew McIntire/TPS)

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed in southern Israel late Wednesday night, the IDF announced. The rocket landed in an open field near the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council and caused no injuries or damage. Israel responded before dawn on Thursday with airstrikes that “targeted two Hamas sites in the southern Gaza Strip,” the IDF said.

A total of four rockets were launched at Israel, a security source told Tazpit Press Service (TPS), but only one actually landed in Israeli territory.

A radical Islamist group affiliated with the Islamic State terror organization (ISIS) took responsibility for the rocket attack on social media. Gaza is ruled by the Hamas terror group, however, and the Israeli army stated that “the IDF holds Hamas accountable for all attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip.”

“Since the beginning of the year, nine rockets fired from the Gaza Strip have hit Israeli territory,” the IDF added.

The attack took place on the Jewish holiday of Lag Ba’omer, in which Israelis light bonfires and celebrate throughout the night – often in areas that would otherwise be empty.

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Hamas and other Gaza-based terror organizations have fired thousands of rockets at Israel over the last several years. The latest attack comes just a week after Israel unveiled a so-called “Iron Dome of the Seas” – a new maritime missile-defense system modeled after the highly successful Iron Dome, an Israeli and US developed defense system that intercepts rockets fired at Israel.

The rocket fire breaks a few weeks of relative quiet on the Gazan border, following a tense multi-day escalation in which Hamas fired mortar rounds at Israeli forces searching for tunnels built by Hamas. The tunnels are designed to allow Hamas commando units to infiltrate Israel and kidnap or murder Israelis. Two such “terror tunnels,” as the Israeli government calls them, were recently found extending from Gaza into Israeli territory.

The latest rocket attack also comes on the heels of Avigdor Liberman being officially named as Israel’s incoming defense minister on Wednesday. Liberman, a blunt and tough-talking former foreign minister, has a reputation for taking a hard line against the Hamas terror organization.

“The elimination of Hamas is the primary mission of the Israeli government and as defense minister I will carry it out,” Liberman said before last year’s elections. “We will not reach agreements and understandings with them. The only agreement that can be reached with Hamas is when they are buried in the ground.”

Jonathan Benedek contributed to this report. 

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Source: Israel in the News